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Henry (Harry) Clasper (1812 - 1870)

Harry Clasper


Harry Clasper was born in Dunston, nr Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1812, and was the first of the great oarsmen that the Tyne produced in the heady days of professional rowing.

Chronology

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  • Born in Dunston, nr Newcastle upon Tyne.
  • 1833
  • Wandsworth Regatta - Silver cups presented by White House Tavern for 10 fours, one of which was from Newcastle and crewed by the Claspers (The Times 24/06/1833).
  • 1837
  • About this time H. & W. Clasper, John Thompson, Robert Dinning, cox R.Clasper in Swalwell beat a celebrated crew from Swalwell in "Country Lass" for 10.
  • 1840
  • H.Clasper at Ship Inn, Derwenthaugh built the "Hawk". About this time, John Dobson of Hillgate, Gateshead built the "St. Agnes" in which Clasper's fours were so successful.
  • 1841
  • (June) Durham Regatta - Harry Clasper won scullers race, but prize withheld.
  • 1842
  • (June) Durham Regatta: H.Clasper won in the "Young Hawk".
  • Harry Clasper raced at Newcastle, and South Shields, and won 5.
  • Clasper was building his revolutionary four "The Five Brothers".
  • (16/07/1842) Coombes' four beat the Claspers; Claspers in "St. Agnes 1" and Coombes in a boat weighing only 160lbs. The Newcastle Journal 23/07/1842 reported Coombes' crew even shared some of the stakes with the Claspers.
  • Tyne Mercury (19/07/1842) "although the men of the Tyne have lost the race, it is not to be inferred from that, that they have lost their honour as oarsmen. Let their friends furnish them with a proper boat and we are very much mistaken if the result of another contest is not different.".
  • 1843
  • (07/08/1843) Tyne Regatta - Clasper's Five Brothers first used, keeless, 37' long and 2' wide with iron outriggers.
  • Four brothers rowed and won 525 in the race.
  • Tyne Regatta: H.Clasper won singles race for a silver cup.
  • (02.09.1843) Clasper's four beaten by John Bell's crew for 20 in Newcastle.
  • (07.10.1843) Clasper's four beat S.Danson's crew for 50 in Newcastle.
  • (14.10.1843) Clasper's four beat John Bell's crew for 80 in Newcastle.
  • Harry Clasper won 150 in 5 matches in Newcastle.
  • 1844
  • (21/06/1844) Thames National Regatta: Claspers beat Coombes' in the fours heat, Clasper's "Five Brothers" causes much comment. Harry also won the singles in a similar designed boat, the first to be fitted with outriggers according to Woodgate's Boating (1888). The four lost on the second day due to steering difficulties.
  • (22/06/1844) 3 Clasper brothers and John Hawks won 50 in the heat, but lost 100 the next day in the final. "The Newcastle men had a stroke peculiar to themselves" (Times 24/06/1844) whilst the highest tribute A.A.Casamajor could pay a member of the OUBC 1858 crew was that his stroke "was founded exactly upon the Clasper style" (Lehman's Complete Oarsman).
  • (15/08/1844) Newcastle & Gateshead Regatta: All-Clasper crew won Fours for 30.
  • (16/08/1844) Newcastle & Gateshead Regatta: H.Clasper won singles.
  • (18/12/1844) Coombes versus Clasper on the Tyne (Illustrated London News 28/12/1844) Coombes won 280 in four matches this year, this race plus others in London and Henley. However forfeited part of his stake in this match for not fulfilling his bargain with Clasper (Newcastle Journal 21-28/12/1844)
  • Raced for 180, Clasper put up 80 to Coombes' 100 from Newcastle Bridge to Lemington. Following the race Coombes' backers suggested a return match the next week 100 from Clasper to their 200, the challenge being accepted 20 was deposited by Coombes with Joseph Hair of the Quayside and 10 by Clasper. Coombes failed to fulfill the next payment and Clasper claimed the 20 as forfeit.
  • Clasper's single was described as the "beau ideal of his four-oared gig, The Five Brothers" (Newcastle Journal 14-21/12/1844) but Coombes' was 6lbs lighter at 43lbs. The late Eric Halladay (Durham Univ coach) wonders if Pocock built Coombe's boat as he claimed Clasper stole the idea from him.
  • Clasper won 155 in 5 matches in London and Newcastle.
  • 1845
  • (26/06/1845) Thames Regatta: Claspers and John Hawks win fours for 100 to become Champions of the World, the "Lord Ravensworth" H.Clasper, W.Clasper, R.Clasper, E.Hawks cox R.Clasper beat Coombes' crew R. & T. Coombes, J.Phelps, T.Goodrun, cox D.Coombes and the London crew R.Newell, Pocock, Robins, Dodd cox E.Maynard. After the regatta Lord Kilmorey who had bought the skiff "Lord Ravensworth" for 81 ordered a four from H.Clasper.
  • Thames Regatta: Harry stroked the Clasper's new outrigged carvel-built boat only 2' wide to enable the crew to defeat Coombes' convincingly in a new four called the "Lord Ravensworth"
  • "Farewell the days when London boats were the finest that were made, For Harry Clasper from Tyneside soon put ours in the shade; He makes his boats so light and neat, brings out such first class men, He licks wor builders, rowers too; wor London's glory's gyen." (Joe Wilson, Tyneside songs and drolleries 1890)
  • (21/07/1845) North of England Regatta on the Tyne. Claspers won the fours and Harry the singles.
  • (29/09/1845) H.Clasper beat Thomas Carrol (Champion of the Mersey) on the Mersey for 200.
  • (October) Clasper versus Carroll (Champion of the Clyde) on the Mersey. Newcastle and Darlington Railway offered a special excursion to see the race
  • (19/11/1845) Testimonial for H.Clasper at Joseph Hare's on Spicer's Lane.
  • (25/11/1845) H.Clasper beat William Pocock for 200 on the Tyne from Tyne Bridge to Lemington Point in 35 mins. His boat had oilskin enclosing it whereas Pocock's built by Wentrell of Lambeth had none as a result he had to stop and empty his boat in the race.
  • (November) "Clasper raced on the Tyne during which he was turned through 180 degrees by his opponent and then returned the favour, Clasper extended his arm and shook hands with his opponent, an act which elicited most enthusiastic applause from the spectators and showed that both men were satisfied" (Newcastle Journal 29/11/1845)
  • Clasper won 300 in 5 matches in London, Liverpool and Newcastle.
  • 1846
  • (April) Clasper launches an eight for some Oxford students 58 1/2' long, 2'4" wide in mahogany.
  • (23/06/1846) Clasper 35, 9st3lb v Newell 36 10st4lb "Great rowing match on the Tyne", crowds estimated at between 50 and 100,000, Newcastle and Carlisle Railway ran trains each side of the river to follow the race (notice 22/06/1846). The Times (24/06/1846) reported the banks were silent as Clasper lost. "The race terminated without a solitary cheer. The banks of the coaly Tyne were dumb". (Newcastle Journal 27/06/1846)
  • Clasper and Newell raced for 200 from Newcastle Bridge to Lemington Point.
  • (27/07/1846) Manchester Regatta: Claspers and Hawks won two fours races for 25 each.
  • (09/08/1846) R.Newell offered Clasper a return match on the Thames for 200 a side.
  • (03-04/09/1846) North of England Regatta on the Tyne: Claspers won the fours for 50 but Harry lost the singles to Maddison. However, with William, won the pairs for 10.
  • (16/11/1846) H.Clasper awarded the race against H.Maddison after a number of fouls and didn't complete the course which caused Maddison's backers to dispute the result (Newcastle Journal 21/11/1846, Newcastle Courant 05/03/1847) They raced for 200.
  • Clasper won 135 in matches in Newcastle, Durham and Manchester.
  • 1847
  • (21/06/1847) Durham Regatta: H. & J. Clasper won pairs.
  • (08/08/1847) Final deposit made for Claspers v Coombes's match bringing total to 200 to be raced from Putney to Mortlake. Clayton to umpire for Claspers and Jenkins of Leander for Coombes with Layton as referee.
  • (11/08/1847) Clasper defeated in a coxed pair race experimenting with a shorter oar.
  • H. & R. Clasper raced Robert bow 9 stone & Thomas stroke 8st10lbs Coombes cox Henry Cownden 4st 5lbs for 200 in the coxed pairs racing from Putney to Barker's Rail, Mortlake.
  • (02/11/1847) H.Maddison beat H.Clasper for 200 on the Tyne.
  • Clasper won 70 in matches in Newcastle, Durham and London.
  • 1848
  • (26/06/1848) Durham Regatta: H. & R. Clasper won pairs, 3 Claspers and J.Wilkinson cox G.Oliver won fours.
  • (20/07/1848)Thames Regatta: 3 Claspers won fours for 100. Harry Clasper stroked the winning four.
  • Clasper won 150 in 4 matches in Durham and London.
  • 1849
  • (June) Durham Regatta: H. & R. Clasper won Members' Plate for pairs and 10, 4 Claspers won Patron's Plate for fours and 30. Also George Hawks son of the Mayor of Gateshead coached by Harry won the Challenge Cup.
  • (July) Thames Regatta: Harry Clasper stroked the winning four, a composite Thames and Tyne crew including Robert Coombes "it is said that circumstances, not inclination exactly, conduced to this union" (Newcastle Journal 14.6.1849). Raced for 100.
  • 1st Trinity took on one of the Clasper brothers for 4 a week plus his rail fare in the Lent term (Rouse Ball's history of 1st Trinity 1908).
  • (01/08/1849) Clasper accepted Newell's challenge for 100 a side and a 2 length start, as well as offering 10 to row on the Tyne. However if Newell felt that gave him too much of an advantage he would race him on the Wear in Sunderland and defray the costs of transport for him and his boat. Also refers to racing Pocock and paying him 10.
  • (August) Stockton Regatta: All-Clasper crew won fours.
  • Clasper won 140 in 4 matches in Stockton, Durham and London.
  • 1850
  • (06/05/1850) Ascension Day Regatta silk programme course from High Level bridge to "Curds and Cream House" and back. First prize for fours 5 sovereigns given by Mayor of Newcastle, 2nd prize one sovereign given by Sheriff, boats and owners listed Spoors, Cook, Davie, Rob Clasper, Chairman of Stewards. Foy boats fours, 1st prize 2 sovereigns, 2nd one sovereign presented by Trinity House Aynsley, Smith, Selby & Matthew Brown, Masters, Robert Clasper, Matthew & George Taylor. Pairs 1st 2 sovereigns, 2nd one sovereign presented by River Committee of Newcastle Pratt, Bell, Cook, Selby & Matthew Brown, Gilpatrick, Allan, Richard & Rob Clasper. Skiff 1st 2 sovereigns given by Trinity House, 2nd one sovereign given by the Sheriff Cook, Gilpatrick, H.Clasper, Candlish.
  • (June) Talkin Tarn Regatta: All-Clasper crew won fours, H. & R. Clasper won pairs, but Harry was beaten for 10 by Candlish in the singles.
  • Durham Regatta: H. & R. Clasper won Member's Plate for pairs and all-Clasper crew won Patron's Plate for fours.
  • (August) Manchester Regatta: 3 Claspers and Salter won two fours for 20.
  • Ellesmere Plate 3 Claspers and Salter won two fours for 25.
  • (September) Tees Regatta: All-Clasper crew won 2 fours; Patron's Plate and Tradesmen's Plate, H. & W. Clasper won Pairs, Harry beat Candlish in singles.
  • (21/10/1850) Candlish beat H.Clasper for Belt and Purse 20 on the Tyne.
  • H.Clasper beat H.Maddison for Tyne Champion Belt 20 on the Tyne.
  • Clasper won 270 in 10 matches in Stockton, Durham, Carlisle, Newcastle and Manchester.
  • 1851
  • (June) Claspers' four beaten at Henley for 100 when a thowl broke. In the rematch, Claspers' four beat Coombes' crew at Henley for 40.
  • H.Clasper with J.Messenger, W.Pocock, T.Coles beat Bower's and Taylor's crews (in 5 brothers?)
  • Durham Regatta: All-Clasper four won Patron's Plate.
  • (August) Talkin Tarn Regatta: Clasper and Hawks crew won fours for 20, J. & W. Taylor beat H. & R. Clasper in pairs, H.Clasper won singles.
  • (09/09/1851) Candlish beat H.Clasper for the Championship of the Tyne on a foul for 200.
  • Aquatics by an Amateur (Whittacker and Co 1851) declares Clasper's blades "the best and finest model yet for balance and width."
  • Clasper won 85 in 6 matches in Durham, Carlisle, Newcastle and Henley.
  • 1852
  • OUBC won Stewards at Henley Royal Regatta in a Clasper keelless four, the first time an amateur crew was seen in this type of boat at HRR.
  • (10/08/1852) Manchester and Salford Regatta: Scullers' match for 20, 12 for 1st, 5 2nd and 3 3rd. 1st heat J.Carroll in Princess' Club's Princess was awarded the race after H.Clasper in his wager boat took Carroll's water, Thomas Coombes in Countess was 300 yards behind having hit the bank. 2nd heat Richard Clasper rowed over in the absence of Cook of Oxford. Final R.Clasper beat Carroll. Matthew Taylor stroked the Shakespere Rowing Club cutter to win the Ellesmere Plate and a 20s sweepstake from the three crews.
  • Wood & Ault beat H. & R. Clasper in pairs for 10.
  • (August) Nottingham: Taylor beat H.Clasper in singles and pairs
  • Talkin Tarn Regatta: J. & G. Taylor beat H. & W. Clasper in pairs for 10 also beaten by M. & T. Taylor, all-Clasper four won fours for 20, Candlish beat H.Clasper in singles for 8 after he mistook a buoy.
  • (September) Chester Regatta: H.Clasper & Wood beat Taylors to win pairs for 40.
  • Clasper won 190 in 9 matches in Chester, Carlisle, Nottingham and Manchester.
  • 1853
  • All Clasper four beaten by Elswick crew for 100 on Tyne.
  • James Wallace, an old Tyne amateur, recalled Talkin Tarn having a keelless four of Clasper's this year and Tyne ARC bought one from Robert Jewett, another builder on the Tyne.
  • (24/05/1853) Pocock beat H.Clasper for 100 from Putney to Chiswick.
  • Durham Regatta: Fours - Taylors beat Claspers, H.Clasper won Wear Stake for singles, Taylors beat Claspers in pairs, H.Clasper beaten by Winship and Bruce.
  • Nottingham Regatta offered a 1st class four as prize for any Midland counties crew in a boat under 30' built by H.Clasper and worth 30. The All England Skiff Prize of 10, 1st heat J.Candlish (Champion of the Tyne) beat H.Ault, 2nd heat H.Clasper beat H.Buxton. Final Candlish beat Clasper by 1 length. Also at Nottingham H.Clasper, Ault, Wood, Davidson won fours for 40
  • Manchester Regatta: Same crew won 50.
  • Chester Regatta: Same crew beaten for 60.
  • Glasgow Regatta: Same crew won 2 fours events.
  • Clasper won 280 in 11 matches in Chester, Glasgow, London, Durham, Nottingham and Manchester
  • 1854
  • (09/02/1854) H.Clasper & Candlish beat Winship & Bruce in pairs for 200 on the Tyne.
  • (June) Durham Regatta: 3 Claspers & Wood won fours for 20, H.Clasper won sculler's prize.
  • (August) North of England Regatta: Clasper's four raced and H.Clasper and Anthony Maddison won Watermen's pairs for 12.
  • (August) Talkin Tarn Regatta: H.Clasper won sculler's prize; with Maddison won pairs; also with T.Clasper & Wood won Steward's cup for fours for 20. Read the comprehensive Regatta Report from the Carlisle Journal about the 1854 Regatta.
  • (09/08/1854) H.Clasper beat Newell off a 2 length start easily from from Putney to Mortlake for 100.
  • Thames National Regatta: Pocock & H.Clasper won pairs, H&T Clasper, Wood, Maddison beaten in fours for 100, same crew won fours prize for 40, North v South VIIIs race over London Regatta course for 27 won by Winship, Davidson, Bruce, Maddison, Cook, H&T Clasper, Wood beat Cole, R&T Coombes, Mackinney, T.Mackinney, Newell, Goodrun, Kelly.
  • Clasper won 290 in 10 matches in Carlisle, London, Durham and Newcastle.
  • 1855
  • (August) Thames National Regatta mixed Clasper crew beaten in fours, H.Clasper beaten in singles final, beaten by Landsmen crew after being disqualified after a foul, Bruce & Winship beat H.Clasper & Pocock in pairs.
  • Tyne Regatta: H.Clasper won Championship prize for singles for 20, same as the Sculler's Championship he won this month on the Tyne?
  • Clasper won 20 in 4 matches in London.
  • 1856
  • (14/02/1856) H.Clasper presented with Testimonial by his friends.
  • (24/03/1856) H.Clasper beat Matthew Taylor in single on the Tyne for 80 a side.
  • (June) Durham Regatta: 3 Claspers and Chambers won fours for 20, H. & J. Clasper won pairs.
  • (August) Thames Regatta: Harry Clasper stroked the winning four, a Thames/Tyne composite.
  • Thames National Regatta Winship & Bruce beat H.Clasper & Pocock in pairs, H.Clasper, Pocock, Chambers, MacKinney won fours for 100.
  • Clasper won 115 in 8 matches in Newcastle, Durham and London.
  • 1857
  • Thames Regatta: Harry Clasper stroked the winning four.
  • (August) Thames National Regatta 2 Claspers, A.Maddison, Chambers won fours for 100.
  • Manchester: Clasper broke an oar and lost to Ault, Wood, Winship, Bruce.
  • (28/08/1857) Manchester Regatta: H.Clasper, Chambers, Ault, Winship won fours.
  • (September) Lancaster Regatta: Clasper's crew beat Taylor's crew.
  • Clasper won 120 in 3 matches in Manchester and London.
  • 1858
  • (June) Durham Regatta: H. & J. Clasper won pairs, fours Claspers beat Taylors.
  • Tyne Race: Claspers four beat Taylors for 100.
  • H.Clasper received 50 forfeit money from J.MacKinney.
  • (22/07/1858) H.Clasper beat R.Campbell on Clyde for Championship of Scotland and 200.
  • Thames National Regatta: H.Clasper, Chambers, T.MacKinney, T.Pocock won fours and 100.
  • (August) Nottingham Bank Holiday Regatta: Sculling prize of one of Clasper's boats worth 30 and a fours' prize worth 30 which attracted entries from Newcastle (Claspers), Gateshead (Taylor) but Harry Ault's crew of the Shakespere club in Manchester beat the Trent crew in the final. Ault's crew offered a further challenge to the Trent crew to race for 50 in Nottingham or stake 50 against 30 to race in Manchester (Bell's Life 3.7.1859) [Check dates this doesn't tally and Bell's Life shows similar prizes for Nottigham Regatta in 1853].
  • (06/10/1855) H.Clasper beat R.Campbell on Loch Lomond for Championship of Scotland and 200.
  • (09/11/1858) Thomas White beat H.Clasper on Thames for 200.
  • Clasper won 370 in 4 matches in Newcastle, Durham, Glascow and Loch Lomond.
  • 1859
  • Thames Regatta: Harry Clasper stroked the winning four.
  • Clasper's crew photographed in a studio album now held by Gateshead libraries.
  • (27/06/1858) Durham Regatta: H. & J. Clasper won pairs beating Chambers & Winship. H. & J. Clasper, Chambers, Winship won fours.
  • Thames National Regatta: H. & J. Clasper, Chambers, Winship won fours and 100.
  • (23/08/1858) Manchester Regatta: H. & J. Clasper, Chambers, Winship won fours.
  • 1860
  • (08/05/1860) George Drewitt (26) beat H.Clasper (48) by 3 lengths in 22 mins 18 secs on the Tyne from the High Level Bridge to Scotswood for 100 a side. Drewitt raced in a boat built by Jewett of Dunston.
  • (18/06/1860) Durham Regatta: H. & J. Clasper, Chambers, Winship shared fours' prize of 23 with Taylor's crew. Harry Clasper was allowed to race a number of amateurs who resented his presence and rammed him.
  • (21/07/1860) Royal Thames National Regatta final H. & J. Clasper, Chambers, Winship fouled by Shakespear and Thames crews and lost for 100, Thomas crew of Putney and AP Lonsdale crew of Manchester and Tyne. The committee offered Clasper 10 for the race but Clasper challenged the others to race for no stake, which they declined. To add insult to injury when Harry went to race his pair with his son he found two holes had been drilled in their boat.
  • (26/07/1860) Derby Regatta: H. & J. Clasper, Chambers, Winship won fours.
  • (27/08/1860) Manchester Regatta: H. & J. Clasper, Chambers, Winship won fours.
  • (27/09/1860) Newcastle & Gateshead Regatta: H. & J. Clasper, Chambers, Winship won fours.
  • By 1860 H.Clasper had won 2586 in around 130 races, 1655 in fours, 184 in pairs and 747 in skiffs.
  • 1861
  • Engraving of the Kilmorey crew of 1861 George Hammerton, John Tagg, Edward Winship, Robert Chambers, Robert Clasper
  • Robert Clasper v Thomas Eagers (Times 16/06/1861)
  • (09/07/1861) J.H.Clasper beat Pocock on the Thames.
  • 1862
  • George Ridley sang his most famous song "The Blaydon Races" at Harry Clasper's testimonial at Balmbra's Music Hall.
  • Times tries aw, they say, and they're not see far rang Noo he's myed a tryuff trial, he's tested lang - Aw meen Harry Clasper that weel chorised nyem, For aw'se sure they'res nee body can coupled wi'shyem. Faithful awd Harry - plucky as iver The still bloomen posey iv wor coaly river. etc reprinted in Newcastle Daily Chronicle to mark Harry's testimonial.
  • Thames regatta Harry Clasper stroked the winning four.
  • (July 1862) Crew was H. & J. Clasper, E.Winship, R.Chambers cox R.Clasper.
  • (27/11/1862) H.Clasper presented with the "Clasper Hotel" 1 Armstrong Street, Scotswood Road bought with the proceeds of the testimonial fund raising.
  • (December 1862) Pitmen of Blyth challenged the Claspers to a race in "cobles" for 50 or 100 a side, called off as the pit was put on short time.
  • 1864
  • John Clasper employed to coach Derwent RC for two years.
  • 1867
  • (May) Harry Clasper loses his last match aged 57 to a much younger opponent.
  • 1870
  • (12/07/1870) Harry Clasper died aged 58.
  • (17/07/1870) Funeral of Harry Clasper at St. Mary's church in Whickham. An estimated 100,000 to 130,000 people lined route of the funeral from the Tunnel Inn, at the mouth of the River Ouseburn to the church. The funeral cortege could not make its way through Sandhill due to the huge numbers of mourners, and so the coffin had to be placed aboard a barge at the High Level Bridge, and rowed up the Tyne. James Renforth was a pall bearer.
  • (September 1870) J.H.Clasper presented a model of a single scull with pictures of his late father and Robert Coombes to Joseph Cowen, the model shows a padded seat for sliding.
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